Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated in almost all parts of India and Nepal in a myriad of cultural forms. It is a harvest festival.
Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India and is a traditional event. Makara Sankranthi is a solar event making one of the few Indian festivals which fall on the same date in the Gregorian calendar every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 13 or 15 January.
Makar Sankranti is considered as one of the most auspicious days for Hindus. The festival is celebrated differently in different parts of India. Thousands of people take a dip in the river Ganga and pray to the Sun God. The southern parts of India also celebrated the festival as Pongal and in Punjab as Maghi. In Gujarat, celebrations are huge as people offer colorful oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites. It stands as a metaphor for reaching to their beloved God.
In rural and coastal areas, cock fights are held as an important event of the festival. As the festival is celebrated in winters, food prepared in this festival is made to keep the body warm and give energy. Laddu of Til (Sesame) made with Jaggery is the festivals speciality. The festival of Makara Sankranti also honours and pays respect to Saraswati - Goddess of Knowledge. Makara Sankranti represents a period of illumination, peace, affluence and happiness.
Many Melas or fairs are also held on Makar Sankranti. The most famous among them is the Kumbh Mela which is held every 12 years at one of four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. The Magh Mela (or mini-Kumbh Mela) held annually at Prayag, the Gangasagar Mela (held at the head of the Ganges River), Tusu Mela in parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal, Makar Mela in Orissa, etc are some of the other fairs celebrated on this day.